Children Need Godly Parents More Than Gifted Pastors

 

8Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,

and forsake not your mother’s teaching,

9for they are a graceful garland for your head

and pendants for your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9


The church must not replace the privilege of the Christian parent to be the primary voice of the gospel to their children. If this happens, as it so often does, it teaches the child to compartmentalize their faith, to be Chrisian at  church but something different at home or at school or in the ballgame. While this would never be a Christian parents desire, the message rings loud and clear to their child.

This is not to discount the importance of the pastor to students of all ages. He is vital to the kingdom and is set apart by God to make the gospel known to our kids. But never is it God’s intention that he would become the spiritual, surrogate parent for the children of the church. Instead of our children hearing the gospel only in church, pastors should be merely reinforcing a message already preached at home.

Here are a few things to consider in raising our children in the truth of the gospel:

1) Our children need to hear us pray.

Many of us pray with our children before a meal. This might be the only time our children here us prayer, a quick word asking God to bless the food. Often we have our kids pray at this time. We love to hear them pray. If this is the case they may never hear us pray. They must go to church to hear an adult pray. How much do our children need to hear us speak to the Father? How will they see God as someone worth knowing outside of the church walls if that is the only time they hear anyone talk to Him?

2) Let the word come alive in your home.

The Bible can’t be a book that is only opened in the church. Take it in the home. Let your kids see the word is important enough to be opened at home. Read it with them. Let them read it to you. Be creative. We used the Action Bible with our kids. They really like it and learn the stories of the Bible. If your children only hear their pastor open the word and delight in it, then it becomes a book for the church and not for their life. Teach them that the word is life. It is what guides us. It is worthy of our time and attention in the home.

3) Don’t let anything else take precedent over following God in your family

Compromise is the word of our day. Push the moral boundaries; do what feels good; holy living is for the radical. Parents put sports, school, and other activities above church. And let’s be honest here, above God. Christianity is good for our kids when it’s convenient. Is that what we want to teach them? No wonder so many are walking away from the church and God when they leave the home as a young adult. There is nothing of substance to hold on to. Parents we are preaching a message to our kids everyday. Question is what is that message? What are we telling them should be priority?

4) Take time to ask your kids what they are learning in church.

Reinforcing what their pastor is teaching them will go a long away in their Christian development. Ask them questions about the lesson. Offer insight. Encourage them. We challenge our children to answer questions in their classes. To ask the teachers questions.  We help them engage by talking of these things at home. We don’t want them to just punch a clock for their Sunday obligation. We want Sunday to be a part of their ongoing fellowship with God. It always starts at home.

5) Don’t teach your kids that living for themselves is their greatest calling.

Pastors will preach the gospel. They will teach children to deny themselves, live for others in the name of Christ. They will teach them to be like Jesus. That serving is real success. Parents please don’t teach another gospel to your kids. Don’t make it all about good grades, talent, and popularity. Don’t teach them a way contrary to what Jesus would have them know. If you do then you tell your children that church may be ok to attend but the message is not worth listening too. If you teach a false gospel of success and money and fame, then don’t be surprised when your kids follow it to their own demise.

A godly mother and father are more to a child than any gifted minister, with all resources and knowledge can ever bring. It is not too late to begin to teach your children that the most important thing in their lives is knowing Jesus. Don’t let them find Him in spite of you.

Diary of a Wimpy Parent: Raising A Teenager

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

There is a lot of things I want for my teenager  but her thinking I am the coolest dad around is not one of them. Now I am as cool as the next guy, at least in my own mind, but I want to be something else to my daughter than cool. I want to be her role model, her rock, her guide, and maybe even one day her hero. I am not willing to do what it would take to be her cool friend. I don’t want to be a wimpy parent who lets my teenager set the tone for my relationship because I want her to like me.

Now don’t get me wrong… I take the time to find out what she is listening to in her music, what she is doing on Instagram, and who she is hanging out with. I want to be engaged and not clueless about what she cares about. But I want to be the parent and not one of her friends. Too many parents want their kids to like them so much so that they let things go in order to not come across stuffy. That kind of compromise sets the wrong tone for a teenager.

Thing is our kids don’t mean it when they act like they are put out by our being a person of authority . They don’t really want their parents to be hip. Rather they want boundaries and direction from us. Sure it seems like they fight it with every breath. If my daughters’s face ever froze with some of the looks she gave me when I was parenting, it would terrify you. But don’t believe their outcry, they want you to stay strong with them.

Here are a few principles I suggest you implement in raising your teenager, regardless if they think it’s cool or not.

1) Ask your teenager if they have prayed about it when they mention a struggle and take time to pray with them over that struggle.

We have to teach our children that God is more vital to us than someone we just mention on Sundays. That talking to him is crucial for life. Not only should we challenge them to pray but model it for them. Pray over them. Will they roll their eyes or make a sarcastic comment? Quite possibly. But don’t let that deter you. They desperately need you to set the spiritual tone in their life.

2) Monitor what they do on social media continually.

How can I stress this enough? Think this kind of urgency:  there is a fire in the house and you need to get out. Social Media can be an evil place. A place of cruelty and sexuality and vulgarity. There are so many ways for your teenager to get into trouble. Set the boundaries and monitor them! Get a filter like BeSafe and block their accessibility to graphic sites. Our daughter cannot add or erase apps from her iPhone. Only we can do that. Does she like it? Nope but we do it for her own good. We check her texts. We keep her off of snapchat and other sites we believe are used by many irresponsibly.

3) Listen don’t lecture

Teenagers are beginning to become adults. They want to be heard and their opinions to be respected. They don’t what to be treated like a child. Give that to them. Listen to what they have to say and don’t always be quick to correct. Let them have an opinion, and if it is not hurting them, let them learn for themselves if they are wrong. Try not to lecture them. They listen to lectures all the time at school and in church. Let them talk about life as they perceive it and be slow to correct their thinking unless necessary. When you need to correct do so patiently and encouragingly.

4) Be Consistent and Strong

It is so hard not to give in when they are upset with you. Don’t do it. Don’t let them play you. My daughter has me wrapped around her finger and she knows it! Stay strong. Be consistent. Teach them that you mean what you say. It will help them be consistent and strong themselves one day. We are not teaching them well when we give in just to keep the peace. It is not fun being the “bad guy” but it is for their own good. You got this!

5) Don’t stop hugging them

My daughter turns into a limp fish when I try to hug her right now. It’s like I have cooties, leprosy, and body odor all wrapped up into one  scent that repels her. Sure I would rather go hug a cactus than be made to feel like I’m being completely rejected, but you know what… I wouldn’t stop doing it for anything. My daughter needs her daddy’s affection. No matter how awkward it gets I won’t quit. She needs affection and I much rather her get the right type of affection from me than seek it out from a teenage boy! I love on my daughter and won’t stop even if she does act like I am tortuting her by my every touch.

This list is not exhaustive but has been helpful in my raising of my teenager. Please share it with others if you found it helpful.

PARENTING MYTH

Happy family together, parents with their little child at sunset.

 

The way of the parent is often the way of the Cross: the glory and grace and joy in it come at significant cost.

                                                                                                                                                                             ~ Rachel Stone 

What’s easy about parenting?  Nothing.  In all the things I have tried to do in my life, nothing highlights my feelings of inadequacy like parenting.  All I can say is WOW!  Parenting is a constant dispenser of humility.

I have such high expectations for my children.  I want my children to be perfect (just keeping it real), and I want to be the perfect parent.  Not going to happen.  This should not be my expectation.  Reality is, I have sinful children being raised by sinful parents.  Recipe for at least some disaster.

Here is the truth:  parenting is not always fun.  If our goal in parenting is to be happy, then we have the wrong goal.  A better approach is to understand our responsibility as a parent to love them enough to always be honest with them.  They will not always respond this way to our training: ”Oh Daddy Dearest, your compassionate rebuke of me lights my way like stars to the heavens.  What would I do without your constant guidance?”  After I got up off the floor from fainting, I would ask my child what they want and how much is it going to cost me!

Children push our buttons.  Even if they know we are right in what we are teaching them, they are not going to make it easy on us.  Did you make it easy on your parents?  They are going to resist being less selfish just like we do.

There is no such thing as pain-free child rearing.  It involves cost, sacrifice, and pain.  Now by this time you might misunderstand me to be saying I loathe being a parent.  Quite the contrary.  The result of my persevering through feelings of inadequacy, sacrifice, and frustration is not misery.  It actually produces joy.  That’s how it is like the cross.  Parenting comes at significant cost when it’s done right, but the result is joy.  Joy when you see your child responding to another adult with manners.  Joy when you see them put their brother or sister first.  Joy when they remind you how much they really need your support.  Joy when they get excited about God and following Him.

Parenting is not always fun, but it produces great joy in my life.  I love my children fiercely.  I love them too much to let them stay self-centered, defensive, and deceitful.  It’s going to be painful to call it out in them because they are not going to like it.  They will try and make me regret it even if they don’t mean to.  But in the end, I trust God to work and the things I suffered to teach them to leave an imprint. And watching them grow up in a healthy, God-honoring way will bring more joy to my heart than all the gold in Alaska ever could.

You cannot be the type of parent I am talking about without God.  He is crucial for finding joy in parenting.  It is God who teaches us that loving our children means teaching them to live holy.  Just like us, our children are desperate for Christ and His formation in their lives.  That is why our most important purpose in parenting is to help our children see their desperate need for Christ.

Parenting is not easy, but it is an incredible journey of joy when you approach it the right way.

 

They Are Watching

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
                                                                                                                                       Robert Fulghum

How this quote has brought conviction to my heart! There is no greater duty I have on earth than to be a godly example to my own kids. I want them to know what a Daddy, Husband, and Christian should be because of my example. To my friends who are parents I pray you would seize this day and find time to be an example to your kids today.  Lord help me to be the kind of example to Reagan, Addicus, and Noah that would honor your name. Forgive me for my selfishness that so many times keeps me from being what they need me to be. Praise you for grace and for new days where I find your mercy renewed. It is never to late to make changes when you know that you are forgiven! Glory to the name of Christ.